Posts Tagged by Gospel Choir

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 2

Part 1 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap left off just outside of Animal Kingdom.  I was halfway through the race and still feeling really good.  My friend Katherine (KO) found me just as we were leaving the parking lot at Mile 14.  It was really great to see her and have someone to talk to.  My iPod decided to die right when I turned it on, so I had been running with no music and no one to talk to this whole time.

We made our way onto Osceola Parkway and began the trek to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS).  I had run Osceola during the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon so I knew I was in for a long haul.  What I didn’t expect (since those 2 races are run at night) is how bad the sun was going to be during this stretch.  It was almost 9:00 am and the sun was at full blast over the trees and there was barely any shade.  We continued on with the 3/1 run/walk pace for a while, but I found that I needed to walk for longer periods of time.  Osceola also has a ton of overpasses which means hills…not fun!

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

B and my mom were meeting me on Osceola right before we made the turn into WWOS and I couldn’t wait to see them!  Just knowing they were there was making it easier to push through the heat.  B took some fun photos while he was waiting…those cups are quite the sight!

Mile 17 Water Stop...cups, cups and more cups!

Mile 17 Water Stop…cups, cups and more cups!

Seriously awesome costume That hat must have been hot!

Seriously awesome costume
That hat must have been hot!

Oh...here I am!

Oh…here I am!

I immediately dove into the bag I packed and grabbed more body glide to lube up under my sports bra (TMI again??).  I was trying to avoid chafing at all costs…I have no shame and did that right on Osceola Parkway in front of thousands of my friends.  I also switched out my sweaty headband, gave B my dead iPod, restocked my Gu, filled my water bottles and grabbed some crackers.

Diving into my bag of goodies

Diving into my bag of goodies

Look it's Katherine...in the cutest Aurora costume I might add!

Look it’s Katherine…in the cutest Aurora costume!

B said I was looking good at that point…totally the opposite to what I was starting to feel.  I really wanted to just jump in the car with them and go grab a beer, but no…KO and I took off into WWOS.  As we entered the complex there were sponges…ooohhh sponges!  VoluntEARS were handing out sponges soaked in water that were the most amazing things EVER!  I have to admit that when I first saw there were sponges on the course, I was a little grossed out by them but I was totally wrong…the cold water was perfect in that heat.  I just wish I would’ve kept it for later in the race.  Fail!

I won’t go into much detail about WWOS because the whole 3 miles spent in there was my demise.  I really didn’t enjoy this part of the course.  There was barely any shade, it was hot, humid and most of all it was boring.  Around mile 18, my legs started getting sore and I was mentally starting to break down.  This was the farthest I’d ever run (we won’t get into my lack of training here…that’s for another day) and the heat was beating me down.  At least this guy was here to cheer me up a bit…

32 Sign

We ran through Champion Stadium and on to the mile 20 spectacular we heard so much about.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I felt like the spectacular wasn’t all that spectacular.  Yes, the giant sized puppets were very cool, but I was more blown away by them when they were out during Wine & Dine when they were all lit up.

Mile 20 Spectacular

Mile 20 Spectacular

34 Mile 20 Puppets

Giant Tigger!

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Goofy, Mickey and Donald waving and greeting all of us and the 20 mile banner was pretty cool.  I just think that between the heat and the oncoming exhausting I was looking forward to a SPECTACULAR and I just got a small party.

Look who made an appearance!

Look who made an appearance!

Mile 20

Mile 20

Ok, all that was left was a 10K…I could totally do that.  It was a mental battle from here on out.  Yes, my quads were screaming and I was starting to feel some blisters forming on my feet, but I could push through that.  My goal was to just get through the next 2.5 miles to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I knew that I could easily get through the rest.

These 2.5 miles sucked.  You know that wall you always hear about…well I hit it here.  I had nothing left in me.  There were buses set up at mile 21 for people to get on who couldn’t go any further and I seriously considered hopping on, but I sucked it up and kept trucking.  I had people counting on me to finish…I was counting on me to finish!!  I need to thank my friend Cindy who was virtually cheering me on for the entire race…her encouragement really helped here!!  How awesome is she?!?!

Thanks Cindy xoxo

Thanks Cindy xoxo

I was glad to see my favorite green army men on the on ramp to World Drive…they always make me laugh.  Some runners were doing push ups with them which was awesome…I would’ve loved to partake and show off my hard work from CrossFit but I just didn’t have it in me.  My friends Jenn & Danielle did though…bad ass ladies, bad ass!

Yes sir!

Yes sir!

Our friend Carrie caught up to us here and it was so great to see her!  She was struggling as well, so we all tried to motivate each other to get through this last stretch of HOT highway!  At the mile 22 water stop, I really slowed down to refuel.  I don’t normally drink Powerade, but I knew with this heat that I had to make it a priority.  From the beginning of the race I was taking a Powerade and a water at every stop and mixing them together.  Early on I also took a salt packet at the recommendation of my CrossFit coach (thanks Jay!) and I think the combination of all of that really kept me hydrated through the race.  I just had to force myself to keep drinking.  Carrie & KO were a ways ahead of me and I motioned for them to keep going….I didn’t want to hold them back and I really needed to get my head back in the game.

Finally, my favorite hotel was in sight, the Hollywood Tower Hotel 🙂  This meant we were entering the Studios, this meant we were in the home stretch!

The Studios!

The Studios!

Just as we entered, there was a food station with chocolate!  Normally I would’ve loved this, but I just couldn’t bare the thought of eating that in the heat.  I would’ve loved an ice pop or something!  We weren’t in the Studios for long, but it was just what I needed.  Running down Hollywood Boulevard was amazing!  The park was open to guests and they were cheering us on!  We hadn’t had a good cheering squad since Champion Stadium and the energy here was perfect.

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

As I was leaving the Studios, I got a text from B checking in on me.  People were coming across the finish line severely dehydrated and he wanted to make sure I kept drinking.

Awesome hubs :)

Awesome hubs 🙂

Apparently, I wanted to die because that’s the second person I told.  Ha!  Well something happened after this text…I got some sort of second wind!  I popped my last Gu and headed down the the pathway to the Boardwalk.  At the mile 24 water stop, the volunteers were giving “Dasani showers” by just pouring the bottle over our heads.  BEST!  This must have rejuvenated me because I picked up my speed and started really running again!

2.2 to go!!

2.2 to go!!

Love this guy!

Love this guy!

I was shocked to see Carrie and KO again as we passed the Beach Club…someone really lit a fire under my ass!  I think they were just as shocked to see me too.  KO decided to start running with me and Carrie just encouraged us to go on.  We passed the last water stop and finally, we were in Epcot.  This was it…I was almost there!

Entering World Showcase

Entering World Showcase

We had run into our friend Todd just before Epcot, who is part of the WDW Radio Running Team and he said the whole group was right in the UK cheering.  And man were they cheering…that was awesome!  My friends Jillian and Kelly were also there…I’m sure I looked to be in a very different state from when they saw me earlier in the Magic Kingdom.  I almost ran over and grabbed Jillian’s beer, but I had to focus on this last mile.  I was very close to the 7 hour mark and was determined to finish under that.

World Showcase was horrible.  If you’ve ever walked around there on a warm day, you know it can be like the Bataan Death March.  Now try doing that after running 25 miles…WORST!  It felt like it was going on forever and ever and ever.  But finally, we made it to Future World and I knew what was in store…my favorite gospel choir!

A beautiful sight!

A beautiful sight!

As I rounded the corner towards the Epcot parking lot for those last .2 miles, I was in shock.  The amount of people who were there cheering was insanely overwhelming.  It was nothing like I had ever seen before.  It literally stopped me in my tracks and I became overwhelmed with emotion.

Look at all those people!!

Look at all those people!!

Even MORE people!

Even MORE people!

And there she was…the finish line.  I had made it all 26.2 miles.

The Finish Line!!

The Finish Line!!

I crossed strong with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe I actually just did that and to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.  Running a marathon never seemed like a possibility to me.  I’m an ex-smoker, I have ulcerative colitis, I’m clearly overweight…people like me don’t run marathons.  Well guess what…I DID!!

26.2 DONE...BOOM!

26.2 DONE…BOOM!

I staggered over to the medal area to find my friend Aurora who was giving out medals.  She actually found me first and put that beauty around my neck.  She gave me a huge hug and I just started balling.  Aurora had given me my first half marathon medal at Princess less than a year before and now she was giving me my first marathon medal.  Couldn’t be anymore perfect than that.

I grabbed my food, a Powerade, 2 waters and set off to find my family.  People were dropping like flies all around me from dehydration and the heat.  They had a health official right after the water making everyone who passed her open up a bottle and take a drink or she wouldn’t let them pass.  It was a little scary so I just kept on drinking to be safe.

I found my Mom first and she gave me a huge hug.  I can’t say enough how important it was to me that she was there supporting me…it really made what I just did worth while to see the smile on her face.  And then there is B…sigh.  I can’t write this without tearing up because he has been the most amazingly supportive husband through this whole journey.  He listens to all my craziness about running and travels with me to these races.  He listens to me complain when my legs are sore and pours ice in my recovery bath even when I protest.  He’s my #1 cheerleader.  Oh and the best part, he had a beer waiting for me after the marathon 🙂

Post race beer...hellz yeah!

Post race beer…hellz yeah!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer...I look exhausted!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer…I look exhausted!

The family reunion area was hectic, but I did manage to run into Andy from Attractions Magazine.  We had been talking a lot before the race since it was a first marathon for both of us, so it was great to see him!

50 Post Race_2

Hey Andy!

We got on the bus back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was get in an ice bath and a shower!  My official time was 6:55:13, almost an hour longer than I had hoped.  But with all the challenges I faced (being sick, heat, humidity, etc…) I am just happy that I finished!  I’m not sure I will ever do this again.  The distance was just too long for me, but we’ll see.  All I know is,  I can officially say that I’m a marathoner and that’s pretty awesome 🙂

MARATHONER!

MARATHONER!

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

Princess Half Marathon: The Race

Yes, I know this is overdue. Buckle in…this is going to be a long one.

After the amazing start, I was off and running at a nice 12-minute mile pace. I was feeling good, surprisingly good. Awesome! Let’s do this!

During the 1st mile is when the shedding of the clothes began. I had heard about this and was even wearing my own throw away shirt to get rid of. Because there is a lot of standing around before the race and it was a chilly morning, most people had an additional layer of clothing on. Once you warm up it’s time to get rid of that layer and you simply just throw it to the side of the road. Along the way VoluntEars were picking up the clothes, which are then donated to charity. It was crazy – clothes were flying everywhere! I loved it. So I tossed my shirt and kept on running.

Tiffany and I parted ways after about a mile as she hit the first group of porta potties on the course and knowing that we would meet up later, I kept going. I guess the line at the porta potties was too long for some because just soon after I saw a bunch of women running off into the bushes and pulling their tutus down. It was quite the site.

All of a sudden, I was on World Drive and could see the Magic Kingdom toll plaza in the far of distance. That was fast! Here is where the real Disney entertainment began and why doing a Disney race is like no other. Right in the middle of World Drive was a giant pirate ship – it was incredible! Music from Pirates of the Caribbean was playing, mist was in the air, and Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa were posing for photos. The line for pictures was very long, so I just stopped to take a picture of the ship. As I turned around a very nice woman offered to take my picture in front of the ship and I happily returned the favor. This was just the beginning of all the generosity and kindness I experienced throughout the day.

Before I knew it, I was at the toll plaza. Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Amanda had told me about the speed bump warnings here, which were both comical and annoying. “Caution, Speed Bump Ahead” was playing over and over and over. And if that isn’t enough, there are cast members in every lane pointing them out to you.

After the toll plaza, the course goes to the left into the Magic Kingdom parking lot. This is where one of the coolest photo ops was set up. Many of the female villains were there, including Cruella De Ville, the Queen of Hearts, the Evil Queen, Lady Tremaine, and the evil stepsisters. As I ran past, two runners dressed as Anastasia and Drizella had their picture taken with the stepsisters. All of the characters were cheering when they came up – it was great!

As we entered the Transportation and Ticket Center, we were greeted by a huge crowd of spectators. The cheering and all the support of these strangers overwhelmed me, and this was just the beginning. The course continued on past the Contemporary Resort with a great DJ and the tumble monkeys from Festival of the Lion King along the way. This is where I could sense everyone’s excitement beginning to really build – we were about to enter the Magic Kingdom!

Spectators waiving from the monorail

Crowds at the TTC

Tumble Monkeys!

You enter through a backstage service entrance located between Space Mountain and the main entrance. Runners are then led onto Main Street USA through the gates next to The Chapeau and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. If I thought the crowd at the TTC was overwhelming, this was completely mind blowing. There were more people on Main Street then during the parades! Right before making the turn up to the castle, I saw a sign off to the left with the Be Our Guest Podcast logo on it that said We <;3 Our Runners –I knew it was my friend Jay. I made a beeline for him and I was so surprised to see a ton of people I knew! Kayla, Melissa, Kristen, Todd, and Lou were all screaming my name as I ran past. As I turned the corner and saw Cinderella’s Castle, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t believe I was actually here doing this!

Entering the Magic Kingdom!

Running Right Down the Middle of Main Street USA 🙂

The Castle!

I still had my eye out for the Sparkle Check Point that was set up by my friends Nicole and Suzannah. I finally found them at the hub and took off towards them screaming “Check Me Off!!” Suzannah put together this great photo of many of us checking in.

As I entered Tomorrowland, I lost it. Seeing everyone cheering me on was just too much and I began to cry. I had to walk for a while just to catch my breath. I got up ridiculously early to run this race, but all of these people got up voluntarily to cheer me and all of the other runners on…mind-blowing. This was the first time I began to cry during the race. Note that I say first time…first of many after this point.

We ran through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland. One of the best things about running this race was the excitement of running through the castle. I don’t know how I ended up being so lucky, but a pair of trumpeters welcomed me into the castle. Simply amazing.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub3CCMnTHTY&w=560&h=315]

After running through the castle, we went through Liberty Square and Frontierland, which is where I stopped for my one and only bathroom break. I figured there would be less people in the men’s room since the race was mainly women, so I went straight for that. I walked in, said “hello gentleman” and proceeded to do my business. No one seemed to mind – fabulous. If you can hold out and use the bathrooms in the park, do it. No porta potties for me!

As we exited the Magic Kingdom next to Splash Mountain, there was a great photo op set up with all of the Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty. Again the line was very long and I was much more interested in the medical tent just beyond. Seriously, when someone offers you free BioFreeze, take it! My calves and ankles were really starting to bother me at this point, so I rubbed some on and felt much better.

Once I left the Magic Kingdom, I knew this was where the mental challenge was about to kick in. It was a long road back to Epcot to finish this thing and I was only half way through. I was texting with Tiffany and Amanda throughout the race so we could keep each other aware of where we were. Amanda was only about a quarter mile behind me, so I decided to slow down a bit so she could catch up. I wanted to finish with her since she was the one who really motivated me to go on this journey. So what’s the best way to slow down during a Disney race? Take pictures with the characters of course!

I was so glad to finally catch up with Tiffany around mile 9. It was great to have someone to talk to on this long stretch of World Drive. It seems much longer on the way back. Plus, this was the farthest either one of us had ever gone before since our longest training runs were 8 miles, so we needed to pull each other along. We stopped for a photo with Atta from A Bug’s Life and kept going to the dreaded overpass back to Epcot. I had heard stories from other runners about this horrible, never-ending hill during mile 10 and I was really not looking forward to this. But once again, Disney knows how to get you through it. Stationed right in the middle of the hill is one of the toy soldiers from Toy Story yelling at everyone like a drill sergeant to keep moving and get up that hill.

Runners on World Drive

Amanda was right behind me, so I decided to stop on the overpass to take in the sights and stretch for a few minutes while she caught up. I was so glad to see her. We could see Epcot in the distance and knew we were almost there. Her husband and daughter were waiting to cheer her on in the Epcot parking lot. It was so perfect that a band was playing “We Are Family” right as we got close to them. We both started tearing up – it was a really special moment.

Right near the bus stops I was surprised to see the WDW Radio group there cheering us on! They had taken the monorail over from the Magic Kingdom and had set up camp here to keep cheering. It was so great to see all of those familiar faces once again. Then a little farther up was my BOGP family again! Jay, Kayla and Melissa were screaming my name and surprise, surprise, I began to cry. Who knew a half marathon could be so emotional?! Melissa got this picture of me as I came by.

WDW Radio Group

1 mile to go...

We entered Epcot and a cast member said we had less than a mile to go. I wanted to hug him. We ran around Future World, still managing to have a good time.

You exit out past the old dog kennels, and there they were, an amazing gospel choir. Totally blew me away. Take a listen…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPjbiGvtflY&w=560&h=315]

As we rounded the corner, we could see the finish line in the distance. This was it. I was going to finish! All of a sudden I seemed to forget about that pain in my legs and the blister on my toe. I just wanted my medal!

Only .1 left!

The finish line!!

I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we took off to the finish line. I am so glad we finished together; it was one of the most special experiences of my life.

We did it!!

We immediately burst into tears and just hugged each other. We did it. We found our friend Aurora who was giving out medals and both got giant hugs (hugs with jugs) to go with our new Disney bling. This made me cry even more – I was officially a mess. But I didn’t care, I was now a half marathoner.

Amanda getting Hugs with Jugs

Pure Awesome

Princess Half Marathon Videos

I’m still working on my race recaps for the Tangled Royal Family 5K and the Princess Half Marathon.  Since this is my first half marathon, I have a lot to say!!  I’m sore, tired and hungry, but more importantly I am still on the top of the world for finishing!

I wanted to share some fun videos I took from the race with you for now…ENJOY!

Here is the start of Corral F.  The Fairy Godmother is counting us down!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTiQSfH20qA&w=560&h=315]

Trumpeters welcoming us into Cinderella’s Castle!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub3CCMnTHTY&w=560&h=315]

Amazing Gospel Choir right before finishing the race!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPjbiGvtflY&w=560&h=315]

Such an INCREDIBLE day…more to come!